USA — Navy Demonstration Highlights Bio-Fuels Capability

NORFOLK NAVAL STATION, Va., Oct. 25, 2010 — The U.S. Navy last week con­duct­ed a demon­stra­tion here fea­tur­ing an exper­i­men­tal river­ine com­mand boat which uses an alter­na­tive fuel blend of 50 per­cent algae-based and 50 per­cent NATO F‑76 fuel oil.

The demon­stra­tion is part of an ini­tia­tive to sup­port Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus’ efforts to reduce the fleet’s reliance on fos­sil fuels and is part of a series of pro­gres­sive­ly com­plex tests and eval­u­a­tions sched­uled through 2012.

Rear Adm. Philip Cul­lom, Chief of Naval Oper­a­tions’ direc­tor of ener­gy and envi­ron­men­tal readi­ness, which leads the Navy’s Task Force Ener­gy, said the demon­stra­tion was a his­toric step on the road toward ener­gy inde­pen­dence for the Navy.

“What you’ve seen today is a mean, green river­ine machine,” Cul­lom said. “This demon­stra­tion is a great exam­ple of the fleet answer­ing the Sec­re­tary of the Navy’s call. He told us a year ago that by 2020 half of our plat­forms at sea would be oper­at­ing on an alter­na­tive fuel oth­er than petro­le­um. We made an impor­tant step toward that goal today.”

The ini­tia­tive toward a Navy run­ning on alter­na­tive fuels is mul­ti-pur­pose, the admi­ral said.

“Our pri­ma­ry mis­sion for Navy ener­gy reform is to increase warfight­ing capa­bil­i­ty, both strate­gi­cal­ly and tac­ti­cal­ly,” Cul­lom said. “From a strate­gic per­spec­tive, we are reduc­ing reliance on fos­sil fuels from unsta­ble loca­tions. Tac­ti­cal­ly, effi­cient use of ener­gy resources extends our com­bat range and use of non-petro­le­um fuels assures mul­ti­ple sup­plies are avail­able.”

Sailors assigned to River­ine Group 1 here con­duct­ed the demon­stra­tion, per­form­ing maneu­vers meant to sim­u­late actions tak­en dur­ing offen­sive oper­a­tions.

Rear Adm. Michael P. Tillot­son, com­man­der of Navy Expe­di­tionary Com­bat Com­mand, said the most impres­sive aspect of the demon­stra­tion was that there was no func­tion­al impact on how the boat per­formed.

“The coxswain of the boat told me he could­n’t tell a dif­fer­ence between the bio-fuel mix and the nor­mal fuel,” Tillot­son said. “I think that is a tes­ta­ment to how prac­ti­cal and ben­e­fi­cial this fuel can be for our peo­ple, our Navy and our coun­try.”

Cul­lom said the bio-fuels pro­gram will ben­e­fit ser­vice­mem­bers by increas­ing effi­cien­cy and extend­ing the ranges they can trav­el with­out refu­el­ing.

“This pro­gram is going to ben­e­fit our peo­ple,” he said. “If this extends the range of a pilot, say, one more pass around a car­ri­er, it could mean the dif­fer­ence in allow­ing that pilot to get home to his or her fam­i­ly safe­ly.”

The test­ing and demon­stra­tion of alter­na­tive fuels for ships is led by Naval Sea Sys­tems Command’s advanced fuels pro­gram office. The office, work­ing in coor­di­na­tion with the Task Force Ener­gy Mar­itime Work­ing Group, sup­ports the Sec­re­tary of the Navy’s efforts to reduce total ener­gy con­sump­tion on naval ships.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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